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A Beginner’s Guide to Types of Vanda Orchids: Popular Species, How to Care


Southern Asia is the native habitat of vanda orchid plants. The vandaceous plants hang from the trees in a virtually soilless medium. When you are caring for different types of vanda orchids, it is essential to imitate this condition in the best way possible.

The guide to care for orchid species is a simple one, as long as you keep in mind a couple of fundamental items associated with the orchid’s choices. When you figure out the ideal situation for your vanda orchid (Vanda spp.) to flourish, it will inherently aid you in developing your skills further.

Learn from this beginner’s guide about the different species of vanda orchids. In no time, you will be relishing vibrant and fragrant flowers at an interval of only a couple of months. 

Vanda Orchids: Facts, General Info, and Plant Description

The Orchidaceae family is primarily epiphytic. Found in rocky areas, several kinds of vanda species either hang from cracks or holds on to tree bark.  Gradually, the cracks and crevasses accumulate a moderate amount of organic matter. That means the roots of vanda plants are in relatively minimal soil. Although the Vanda genus is typically monopodial orchids, some kinds are terrestrial or lithophytes. Some of its common features are long, upright, and sturdy stems, and aerial roots. Most types of vanda orchids have a firm nature of growth. However, some genera can reach up to a height of six feet.

The types of leaves produced by these orchids depend on their habitat. 

  • Strap-leaved vanda orchids have thick and leathery strap leaves
  • Terete vanda orchids have fleshy and cylindrical leaves. 
  • Semi-terete vanda orchid leaves are in-between vanda strap and teret types of leaves. 

Did you know that terete vanda species of orchids, of these three, are more compliant to dry periods? 

Most of the species of Vanda prefer higher humidity, warm temperatures, and bright light. The vanda alliance blossoms periodically every year in a burst of color, with 1 to 4 inches of flowering. It mostly consists of orchids grown in full sun in warm climates with many-hued flowers. Since the types of vandas originate from tropical Asia, high temperatures and warm weather are the ideal conditions to grow them. Often, Vandas are tended in light partial shade, like lath houses. In the winter months, they are cultivated inside in sunny windows. In perpetually late winter climates, vanda orchids are grown in greenhouses throughout the year. 

Types of Vanda Orchids: Popular Species

  1. Vanda coerulea 

General Terms: Blue Orchid, Blue Vanda Orchids, Autumn Lady’s Tresses, Blue Vanda 

The Blue Orchid, or V. coerulea, is one of the most famous amongst the species of Vanda Orchids. The significance of this Vanda genus comes from its blue flowers, especially because blue is an uncommon color amongst other orchid flowers. Owing to its rarity, the Blue Orchid is often used in yielding intergeneric and interspecific hybrids of orchids. 

Originally found in Southeastern China, Northeastern India, Thailand, and Myanmar, the medium to large-sized V. coerulea plants produce around 30 spikes of long lasting flowers. The growth rate of its leaves is 25 to 2.5 cm. Meanwhile, each plant achieves a width of 50 cm and a length of 75 cm. 

2. Vanda coerulescens

General Terms: Sky Blue Vanda

Vanda coerulescens, or the Sky Blue Vanda, is one such orchid species that is native to Yunnan in China, Thailand, Myanmar, the Eastern Himalayas, and India at 300 meters to 800 meters of elevation. These epiphytic monopodial orchids can grow to a height of up to 15 centimeters. 
This type of vanda orchid blossoms from winter to spring. Every inflorescence gives rise to twelve to twenty lilac-blue flowers. Measuring up to 3 cm, there is a sweet-scented darker indigo blue lip on each flower.

3. Vanda tessellata

General Terms: Lattice-Like Patterned Flower Vanda, Checkered Vanda

The large to medium-sized orchid species Vanda Tessellata, commonly known as the Checkered Vanda, emerges from India. It is most popuarly known for its medicinal value. This type of vanda orchid plant can grow up to a height of 1 meter. Its linear and long leaves size up to 20 centimeters.  

These long-lived and sweet-smelling flowers sprout in a semi-firm cluster. You will find white and brown markings on its yellow petals. The Checkered Vanda flowers also have a bluish-purple lip and yellow tessellated sepals. During the growing season, flowering occurs in the early winter, fall, and summer.  

4. Vanda sanderiana

General Terms: Saunder’s Vanda, Wailing-Wailing

Here’s a fun fact about Vanda sanderiana. This species of vanda orchid is popularly known as the Queen of Philippine flowers. It is celebrated for its ornamental value. From the name itself, you can derive its place of origin. Vanda sanderiana also contributes to a number of vanda hybrids. Thus, V. sanderiana is also called the King of Vanda

Another common name for this type of vanda orchid is Sander’s Vanda. It was named by Professor Reichenbach in honour of the renowned orchidologist, Henry Frederick Conrad Sander. 

The large-sized Vanda Sanderiana is typically found to have grown at elevations below 500 metres, often on tree trunks. The measurements of the leaves would be around 40 cm long. The oldest ones are evanescent. 

The long-standing, fragrant flowers of wailing-wailing blossom in the autumn, their usual measure being 9 to 11 centimetres wide. While the external whorls are rounder, the inner ones are smaller. The lip is hollow, and relatively compact, and conventionally yellow-brown with a dash of red streaks on the inner portion. 

The following are the three acknowledged varieties of Vanda Sanderiana:

  • V. sanderiana var. labello-viridi
  • V. sanderiana var. froebeliana
  • V. sanderiana var. albata

5. Vanda Tricolor

General Terms: Three-Colored Vanda, Soft Vanda, Vanda Tricolor

The Three-colored Vanda, also known as the Soft Vanda, or Vanda Tricolor, is among the types of Vanda orchids that are found in Indonesia and Laos, especially in Bali and Java. In 1846, British Botanist Thomas Labb brought this vanda genus. Since then, it has been distributed to other regions as well, extending to northern Australia. 

The large-sized Vanda tricolor thrives on exposed tree branches. The striped and leathery leaves are 4 cm wide and about 35–45 cm long. Blooming in winters and autumns, the 6 to 10 waxy, large, fragrant flowers of Soft Vanda can spread up to 7.5 cm in diameter. 

Check out the well-known variations of the Vanda tricolor:

  • var. suavis
  • var. tricolor

Growing Tips: Vanda Culture Sheet

Fleshy and thick pseudobulbs store energy and moisture that is necessary for flowering and growth. If you can grow Vanda orchids in the right way, these plants often produce vibrant and aromatic flowers. This is a guide to beginners for growing and caring for different types of vanda orchids. 

  1. Lights

In order for most vandaceous plants to bloom, light is a vital factor. Terete, semi-terete, and strap-leaved are the three kinds of vanda orchids. Terete types are best grown in climates with high temperatures as they require full sun. While terete types have circular, pencil-shaped leaves, strapped-leaved vanda orchids have flat, broad leaves. The hybrids between these two species, the semi-terete have an intermedial shape of leaves. 

When growing Vanda in greenhouses, the Orchidaceae family needs about twenty-five to thirty-five percent shade. The shade percentage would decrease in colder months due to overcast weather. The leaves ought to be medium green instead of dark green. 

In warm climates, any type of vanda orchid can be cultivated outside with partial shade. Semi-terete and strap-leaved types of Vanda can be grown, especially in summer or at midday when the plants are exposed to direct sunlight. In the winter months, various types of vanda orchids are grown indoors in a south window where there is plenty of bright light. Ascocendas will come in handy if you are trying to care for orchids in colder climates. Prevent burns by acclimatizing your plants. 

  1. Temperature

Other than some of the hybrids of vanda coerulea and V. coerulea itself, most types of vanda orchids require warm temperatures. We would recommend the night temperature be a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. For optimum growth of the vanda plants, optimum temperatures are 15 to 22 degrees Celsius at night and a maximum of 35 degrees Celsius during the day. The faster growth that comes with warmer temperatures needs to be balanced with excess water, fertilizers, air movement, and higher humidity. Warm and humid days ensure optimal growth of vanda orchids. A special case scenario is Vanda coerulea. A few of the blue orchids can tolerate cold climates much better than their sister plants. 

  1. Water

At times, Vandas are cultivated in plastic pots with orchid media and sphagnum moss. However, this is not an ideal situation. Instead, most gardeners and farmers prefer to grow vanda orchids in slotted baskets because they allow the roots to dangle freely toward the ground. A little water is not sufficient for plants that are grown like this. When the plants are in their growing stage, frequent watering must be done. However, the roots of the vandaceous plants must dry quickly. 

In spans of high temperatures, you will need to water your vanda plants twice a day. When you are watering Vanda, you will first have to saturate the plant till the color of its silvery or white roots change. After this,  you must wait a couple of minutes before soaking the plant again. You should keep it under the water spray for a total of eight minutes. During cloudy weather or in winter, only a little water is adequate. If your vanda orchid is gravely dehydrated, rehydrate it by simply putting the entire plant in a bucket of water for a short while. 

  1. Humidity

The ideal humidity for optimum plant growth is 80 percent. So, as long as you maintain 65 percent or above, you are good to go. These humidity levels are easily obtainable in tropical climates. In a greenhouse, evaporative coolers can seamlessly provide the requisite level of humidity. To make your personal evaporative cooler, fill a bed of pebbles or gravel with water and place it directly underneath the vanda roots. As long as the roots don’t reach the tray, the direct sunlight will do the rest. You must also make sure that the air movement is strong. 

  1. Blooming

Whether your vanda orchid will flourish throughout the year depends on how you are growing it. If your orchid species have abundant access to moisture, warmth, and light, they will remain healthy. Happy plants can bloom at any time! The spikes that Vandas blooms from predictably emerge from between the leaves. The numerous flowers of the flower spikes generally stay open for weeks. 

  1. Fertilizer

Vanda orchids are heavy feeders, and it is common knowledge that well-fed plants thrive better. Use a weak, liquid-based fertilizer to fertilize your plants weekly during the growing season. Additionally, you can use pellets of controlled-release fertilizer for plants that have been cultivated in plastic pots. Compost only over substrate or roots. 

We recommend the following two fertilizers:

  • High-phosphorous fertilizer for blossoming
  • Balanced fertilizer for optimal growth 
  1. Potting

Spring is the season for potting. If you are growing your vanda plant in a basket, you will not need to re-pot it very frequently. Until the potting medium breaks, you can leave it as it was. Keeping the old basket intact, set the vanda orchid plant into a container of water. This will make the aerial roots more flexible. 

After this, position the basket and the plant in a larger basket. In the case of plants grown in pots, we suggest you re-pot in a somewhat bigger pot, placing the plant in the middle. Coarse mediums like charcoal, tree fern, or fir bars are ideal to be worked around the roots. Keep the roots dry and your plant humid and partially shaded. 

Due to the high humidity levels required for varied types of vanda orchids to survive, bacterial and fungal maladies of Vandas are normal. So, when caring for vanda orchids, beware of mishaps like leaf blights, leaf spots, root rot, and so on. 

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